Report: Rays to sign Felipe Lopez to a minor league contract

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UPDATE: Multiple major league sources tell Alex Speier of that the Red Sox would not be entitled to a draft pick, even if Lopez makes the Rays’ Opening Day roster.

Nicely played, Mr. Friedman.

8:17 PM: Here’s an interesting one.

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays are expected to sign Felipe Lopez to a minor league contract in the next couple of days.

Lopez, 30, batted just .233/.311/.345 with eight homers, 37 RBI and eight stolen bases over 441 plate appearances between the Cardinals and Red Sox last season, but is capable of playing second base, shortstop and third base. Heck, he even pitched a scoreless inning in the extra-inning marathon against the Mets last season.

It appeared that Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein did a tremendous job gaming the system when he signed Lopez for the final week of the 2010 season. Lopez, a Type B free agent, declined arbitration from the Red Sox, so the club would have received a compensatory first-round draft pick if he had signed a major league deal elsewhere. However, because Lopez is set to sign a minor league deal, that won’t happen.

As Tommy Rancel of ESPN 1040 and the Process Report notes, the Red Sox could potentially petition for the pick if Lopez makes the Rays’ Opening Day roster — though I’m honestly not sure if there’s a precedent for that — but as of now, Andrew Friedman has successfully blocked his division rival from obtaining a draft pick.